I know that many people are somewhat skeptical in regards to the new Potter book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And with reason; it isn’t ‘the next Potter book’, really. It tells the story of Harry’s youngest son Albus. If anything, the book is a teaser for the play that is currently on stage in London and brings the story to life. Still, I found the book so enjoyable and exciting to read – and I had many feelings as I did –
this book is just shock after shock after shock #cursedchild
— Marianne (@MyNamesMarianne) 4 août 2016
I just had to share my top 4 reasons to pick it up – if you like the Harry Potter saga.
Any spoilers will be written in white and kept in brackets, like so: (these are spoilers).
1. The characters will make your heart melt
Scorpius Malfoy. Albus Potter. Draco Malfoy. Harry Potter. (Severus Snape. Albus Dumbledore).
Albus couldn’t be more different from his father and that is made clear to us by (his being sorted into Slytherin and) his befriending Scorpius – a Malfoy. Albus and Scorpius have adventures together; but those are tainted by their feelings of inadequacy and difference. There’s a reason Albus is nicknamed ‘the Cursed Child’. He and Scorpius just want to be loved for who they are (oh how relatable for basically any human). They don’t trust the adults that don’t get them – so they do something very stupid – and everything goes to shit.
You can tell what the theme of the book is from its very title: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”. Albus isn’t even named, and he comes second to his father. This struggle is the core of the story. Needing to exist as an individual. Leaving the past where it belongs…
2. You will be surprised
First and best thing: there is a very obvious gay love story… Though it isn’t explicit, it’s nice to see something a little bit more LGBT-friendly finally getting included in the saga.
But with that aside, the wizarding world has been refreshed. You’ll learn something (super weird) about the Trolley Witch of the Hogwarts Express; you will see just how damaged the trio is (they all clearly suffer from PTSD and none of them seem to have seen a therapist about it); and you’ll find out something shocking concerning Voldemort. Though he was originally a mere metaphor for evil, an unlikely one-dimensional villain, the Cursed Child has made him seem uncomfortably normal; it’s like the character was actually human, which I never really considered. (I had initially dismissed the rumors about Scorpius being Voldemort’s child because of how ludicrous it seemed to me that Voldemort had a sexuality. I always read him as a fundamentally asexual character).
literally gasping as I read the #CursedChild
— Marianne (@MyNamesMarianne) 4 août 2016
The format of the story is weird. Reading a play is completely different from reading a novel. There is no time to dwell on context, explanations or sometimes, plot holes. I’ve read criticism of the play, people calling the story very fanfiction-y. But because a play has to move forward quickly in its story, all the usual fluff has to be taken out. It goes to the point: there is a great danger out there and the kids are in danger (what else is new?).
3. Adult Harry and Ron are unmissable
Of course, Hermione is kicking ass – as usual. She always had done so it is no surprise to see what kind of cool adult she has grown into.
Ron has turned into a jolly father who remains loyal to his friends no matter what. He has turned into a sweet, loving person and he is such a joy to read.
As for adult Harry… ehh. He’s struggling.
Holy shit Harry is a jackass parent #CursedChild
— Marianne (@MyNamesMarianne) 3 août 2016
It’s painful to read, but it’s also such an important thing to witness. It’s great being reminded that the characters – hell, the people – that we worship are just human. They’re just trying hard, doing what they think is best for everyone. And sometimes they’re very, very dumb.
Also, look out for Draco being another sweet, concerned parent. And some cool McGonagall bits. Really, you can’t miss out on the characters.
4. It feels like coming home
Albus’ adventures are a close parallel to his father’s (infiltrating the Ministry of Magic using Polyjuice Potion, seeing a classmate die at 14, time traveling to save an innocent…).
The story revisits events we have already read about; its characters are familiar, the spells are the same, the settings are places we have (kind of) been. It isn’t really the next Harry Potter book – remember, it’s the script of a play – but it takes you along on a whimsical journey through the stories you have loved. It feels like hearing from old friends; a little bittersweet because you can tell you have missed a lot in the meantime, but wonderful all the same because you had missed them so much.
The message of the story hasn’t changed. Friendship, love and cohesion in the face of evil is still what this Harry Potter story is about. It is written word for word:
“I’ve never had to fight alone. And I never will.”
In sum, reading The Cursed Child is like a present for any Potterhead: it was a wonderful mix of old and new, with all the familiar things and characters we know jumbled up into a completely new story. I did not expect it to take me on such a whimsical journey, but it did.
And it was magical.